Amended GCSEs in French, German and Spanish: FAQs
Discover more about these new changes. A series of FAQs has been produced to explain the rationale for the modifications and to highlight the improvements made.
These questions and answers have been put together in response to the recent amendments made to the Pearson-Edexcel 9-1 GCSEs in French, German and Spanish. The core elements of the examinations remain unaltered in line with regulatory requirements, but changes have been made to improve the overall assessment experience for your students. Some of the questions relate to the qualifications in general and others are paper-specific.
Our changes have been made in response to feedback from teachers following the awarding of our 9-1 GCSEs in French, German and Spanish in 2018 and 2019 and the findings of linked internal reviews. As a result of this, the amendments made:
- remove any barriers to success ensuring students achieve their full potential and have a better exam experience;
- provide content that is appropriate for GCSE level students.
All our changes will be implemented in the summer 2021 examinations and all subsequent examinations that are linked to these ‘2016 specification’ qualifications.
NB: These amendments will not apply to any examinations that may be arranged for autumn 2020.
The amendments should improve your students’ assessment experience without requiring any changes to your teaching. The essential features of the different assessments and content have not changed. This was borne out by extensive trialling across the country and we’re very grateful to everyone who took part in the trialling of assessments and to all those who offered feedback as this has helped us to make the improvements.
There should be no need to adapt your current schemes of work as your students are still required to cover the same course content. Please refer to the paper-specific FAQs that follow.
A special guide has been produced that outlines the key changes and support that you can access this from the 'Specification and sample assessment materials' or 'Teacher support' sections of the GCSE French, German and Spanish qualification pages on our website. A free ‘Training from Pearson’ support webinar has also been organised for 25 June, 2020 and the slides from that session will later be uploaded to our website.
Yes, these amendments exclusively relate to the Pearson-Edexcel 2016 specification 9-1 GCSEs in French, German and Spanish. They follow on from two years of formal awarding, teacher feedback and our own internal reviews.
No, the latest amendments apply exclusively to the 2016 specification Pearson Edexcel GCSEs in French, German and Spanish and their respective SAMs have been updated. Specifications for GCSEs in other languages were not devised until 2017 or 2018 and, therefore, have no (or a more limited) awarding history to draw on. It is possible that changes may be made to the 2017 and 2018 specifications in subsequent years.
We are, however, exploring implementing the Paper 2, Speaking changes for other GCSE languages and more information will be shared if this happens.
Please note that work on the development of the amended papers commenced well before the COVID 19 pandemic took hold. Consequently, if any changes are made to the 2021 assessments as a result of concerns highlighted in the Ofqual guidance (page 16), these would be additional or different to the current revisions.
As soon as Ofqual and the DfE provide further information on 2021 assessments, we will share it with you.
No, the Languages review is quite separate. These amendments affect our current 2016 specification GCSE qualifications and work started on these prior to the independent languages review panel being set up.
We’ve provided more time for your students to think about each answer and respond across all questions. Some changes to the pausing were originally planned for summer 2020 assessment for all our GCSE languages and these will continue from summer 2021 onward.
Following teacher concerns about too many inference-based questions, we’ve significantly reduced both their demand and frequency. We’ve also made the spoken extracts shorter so that the assessment focus is on understanding rather than memory and have included fewer unfamiliar words, ensured that these are not directly tested and have dispersed them more evenly across the papers. You’ll note too that some of the multiple-choice questions have redesigned formats to improve overall accessibility. The changes apply to Foundation and Higher tier papers.
Inference, or an ability to deduce meaning from different spoken texts that may involve complex language and abstract material as well as drawing conclusions form an important part of the Department for Education GCSE subject content.
At Foundation tier, inference questions will only be included in the crossover questions targeting grades 4 and 5 and can only attract up to a maximum of 4 marks for the whole paper. At Higher tier, the number of marks for inference have been halved. There will be no more than 2 marks for inference in any individual question, up to a maximum of 7 marks in total for the whole paper.
Our roleplay is the only task in our speaking test that requires students to ask a question. However, many teachers have felt it unfair that students don’t receive any marks for their question if they have been prompted to ask one. Consequently, we’ve revisited this element of the roleplay so that all candidates will be prompted by their teacher to ask a question (and without any marking penalty of course).
We understand that until this change becomes ‘bedded in’, some students might still be used to asking the required question without any teacher prompting. If this occurs, there will be no need for the teacher examiner to read out the prescribed prompt and the student will not, of course, incur any penalty.
Some important changes have been made which should make the papers more accessible. We’ve reduced the length of all texts so that the assessment focus is on and have included fewer unfamiliar words, ensured that these are not directly tested and have dispersed them more evenly across the papers.
Following teacher concerns about too many inference-based questions, we’ve also reduced their demand and frequency significantly.
An ability to deduce meaning from different texts that may involve complex language and unfamiliar material, drawing inferences in context and recognising implicit meaning form part of the Department for Education GCSE subject content.
At Foundation tier, there will be no inference in the lowest demand questions (questions 1-4), and there will be no more than 2 marks for inference in any individual question in questions 5-9, up to a maximum of 5 marks in total for the whole paper. At Higher tier, the number of marks for inference has been reduced and there will be no more than 2 marks for inference in any individual question, up to a maximum of 7 marks in total for the whole paper.
Although the reading papers will have fewer unfamiliar words spread across the question paper which will not be directly tested, the Department for Education GCSE subject content still requires candidates to encounter some unfamiliar material.
Teacher feedback has suggested that some of the contexts attached to certain questions were overlong or unrealistic and there have been concerns that some support bullets were unclear or too wordy. The question contexts have now been shortened and should be more relevant to most candidates. Similarly, the bullets are shorter, simpler, and always clarify the required time frame so students can respond confidently. The language of question 2 at foundation and higher tiers is now set using the familiar form of ‘you’.